Bento Boxes

Have you heard of this fun lunch idea? Bento boxes are a Japanese style packed lunch that is appealing, nutritious, filling and delicious! It’s a perfect solution for an easy on the go meal.  It’s not a new idea, just a quick and portable way to prepare a healthy balanced meal.

Practical yet fun storage containers are available at Amazon, SAMS club or local retail stores. Simply add an ice pack in the morning and it’s ready! The basic idea is to combine fresh items; protein, carbs, fruit and veggies and maybe a small dessert or treat. There are endless ideas on Pinterest that can be adapted to your family tastes. You might also search under “bistro boxes” for more results.

Similar pre-made lunch/snack boxes are available at cafes or grocery stores but it’s going to be more expensive than making your own. I prefer to meal prep to save money and guarantee that the food is really fresh!

I could go on and on about this lunch idea because it’s so easy, fresh and healthy! Here’s a great pic to help you get started.

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Spring

Happy Spring!

….the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds has come… Song of Solomon 2:11-12

The days are getting longer, flowers and trees are starting to bloom and spring cleaning continues!

We’ve added a couple new little additions to our family recently:

Meet Cadbury and Peanut! They are sweet, funny and lively….it’s so fun to watch their antics.

I’ve also done a little “spring cleaning” here on my blog. I have updated my introduction column (About Me) and will be adding a whole new element to this site in the near future! I’m excited to add FITNESS topics to this food and faith blog! I keep a favorite motivational quote on my phone from Rick Warren that says, “God created it. Jesus died for it. The spirit lives in it. I’d better take care of it!” Stay tuned for fun fitness posts!

On a personal note, I’ve recently accepted a position on a catering team for a local market that specializes in flavorful and fresh Appalachian fare! The busy season is approaching quickly and I’m looking forward to the graduation parties, weddings and special summer events!

Honey BBQ baked chicken tenders

You just can’t beat fresh honey! Check out this LIVESTRONG article about the benefits of local raw honey:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/266247-benefits-of-local-raw-honey/

It’s great for so many purposes but we especially love it in recipes! These baked chicken tenders turned out great….full of flavor and just delicious!

http://honey.com/recipe/honey-bbq-baked-chicken-tenders

The National Honey Board has a terrific website with information and several recipes! http://honey.com/

A perfect side dish with BBQ chicken is potato salad. This recipe is a little time consuming but it is worth it! You’ll have plenty of leftovers for a couple days to enjoy or share with a friend.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/mama-s-potato-salad

When it rains

It pours, right?  I consider myself a very optimistic person but once in awhile you just need life to give you a break.  Over the past several months our family has went through many things that had the potential to leave you feeling discouraged and hopeless.  But thankfully, on most days, our heads were up and we knew things were going to get better.  The good Lord shows up and shows off when you need Him the most!  He promises to always provide for His children.

My husband recently began a new job and has been working hard to learn all his new duties and responsibilities.  A new job always requires alot of patience, effort and in his case, now a lot of travel.  Our beautiful mountain state is full of wildlife and unfortunately two new company cars (one a total loss) have met them close up.  Rental cars to the rescue!  We sold both our vehicles recently.  We shared one truck for awhile.  We dealt with used salesmen for a couple months.  And then finally found a newer truck with low miles in our budget.  Hopefully we are done with all the car hopping for awhile!

We started our new homeschool year in the fall.  And shortly afterwards, my 8th grade girl started her 2 year process of orthodontic treatments.

We had several family emergencies, health issues and long days at the hospitals.  A couple times, we had multiple family members either in the ER, in a hospital room or in surgery.  The photo above is from the surgical unit waiting room on a very quiet Sunday morning.  Of course you can’t be two places at one time so we weren’t able to attend church each week on a regular basis.  During this same time, my husband had surgery and then physical therapy and was off work for 6 weeks.  As with any surgery and time away from your job, it comes with much paperwork, phone calls and dealing with insurance companies.  He was able to return to work the week before Christmas.

We saved and planned for our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Ontario for several months.  Literally, the day before we were scheduled to leave, we had a family emergency and cancelled all plans; our reservations, tickets, etc.  After a couple months we were finally able to get away for a few days for some relaxation and alone family time.

During these rough months, it seemed we would never get back to “normal”.  Sometimes we take the little things for granted each day.  Despite everything that was going on, it was my goal and daily struggle to try my best to maintain some type of normalcy for my daughter.  Our days were anything but normal and everything was just a mess.  I don’t believe in sheltering our kids from the world but I strongly believe that kids shouldn’t carry adult burdens.  I tried to continue her 4h activities, weekly youth group, horseback riding, being with friends, playing games together, etc.  Looking back, it only added more stress to attempt some of these things but it also helped to sneak in some fun activities when possible.  And yes, we made our best effort to keep up with school work which was quite a challenge in itself.  8th grade is a very important year in my opinion, as we finish up middle school classes and prepare for high school in the fall.

These are only a few things that come to mind or that I want to share right now but you get the idea.  Life isn’t perfect, that’s for sure, but sometimes it all hits home at the same time.  Some days you just question, “what else can go wrong”, or “what else is going to happen”?  I only share these thoughts to give God the glory and share how He is there for us when we need Him.  Or, he sends the right people that cares for us and provides encouragement when we need it the most.  You will always remember the friends or family that helped when times were rough.

As with any trial, we always come out better than before.  We learn valuable life lessons during the rough times that we may never have learned otherwise.  And for that reason alone, we should be grateful.  Our perception changes as we look at things differently.  We can either become bitter or better.  We can find the good in bad situations if we just take the time to look for it.

I’m so thankful…

that my husband didn’t get injured in his car accidents.

we had the resources to pay for braces, hospital bills, a newer vehicle, etc.

our family members are doing better physically.

my husband is recovering very well from his surgery.

And I’m most thankful that God taught us more about compassion, forgiveness, grace and mercy during this time.  Our faith has increased and we are moving forward!  The last couple weeks have been very “normal” for us and it feels great to settle back into a routine once again.  I once heard someone say that you are in one of three positions right now;  either just came out of a storm, in a storm now or getting ready to be in a storm soon.  May our faith lead us and prepare us for what lies ahead.  And may we have compassion to help others as they go through the storms, particularly the ones that we have experienced ourselves.

If you are starting a new job, facing health scares, big decisions, car accidents, disappointments, family problems, financial issues…. put your faith in God to help you.  He promises to be there!

2 Cor 1:3-4

…the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble..

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your cares upon him; for he cares for you.

Psalm 29:11

The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint.

Holidays!

It’s a cold and snowy January day….perfect for sharing a few holiday recipes! Last month we enjoyed a fun evening with our Auto Zone family at the company Christmas party. We always look forward to this celebration each year! It’s a great time to catch up, relax and just spend a few hours together during the busy holiday season. Due to Adam’s job change, we didn’t host the party this year like normal but we were happy to be invited!

Meat and cheese boards are so fun to put together! Be creative and make it appealing! The basics include meat and cheese, pickles, olives, crackers, dried fruit, garnishes and nuts. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Just make sure to use different shapes, sizes and textures on the tray. Another idea is to use sweet and salty items for a completely different type of board.

Speaking of sweet items… we can’t forget desserts! These white chocolate peanut butter balls from Taste of Home are always a favorite each year! They are so simple and quick to mix up.

The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled depending on the amount you need to serve. https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/peanut-butter-snowballs